How to buy running shoes: Tips to treat your feet well
Know your arch
Running trainers come in four main categories; neutral cushioned, motion control, stability and performance, but your arch type and how much you pronate (roll to the inside of the foot) or supinate (roll to the outside of the foot) will help determine which category best suits your feet.
"Supinators (sometimes called under-pronators) are less common but can still definitely lead to injury concerns if the runner makes poor shoe choices, builds mileage too quickly and doesn’t look after themselves," says Nick. "Up to 60-70% of the population may over pronate and it can be more prevalent in females or older people. Again, this shouldn’t be a problem with the right shoe choice combined with strengthening exercises for the lower limbs."
What about the wet test?
"There are three types of foot arch: High, medium and low," says Tim. So how do you find out which type of arch is yours? "One way is to take a wet test," Tim says. "This reveals an imprint of the sole of your foot on a piece of paper, which can then ultimately be matched to one of the three arch types."
"To do a wet test -place your foot in water and then walk and stand normally across a dry floor surface or some brown paper. The amount of wet contact on the ground will leave a rough idea of foot type and foot plant," says Nick. "Crucially though this test doesn’t show the motion issues and biomechanics happening from the ankle upwards, which can be more important.” So, take this outline (by drawing around your footprint when it’s wet) to a speciality running shoe shop and this, alongside some in store gait analysis, will help the sales staff evaluate your feet so they can point you towards the right footwear.
High, rigid arches will generally need more impact protection and need neutral-cushioned shoes, whilst low, flexible arches, usually found on overpronating runners should need stability or motion controlled trainers. If your arch looks normal then runners can wear shoes from all categories but will still need to bear their weight, distance and terrain in mind.
Here are our top tips for finding the running shoes that are best for you.
"We would normally recommend you have half a thumbs width of space at the front of the trainer when standing normally and your foot spread,” says Nick. "Your feet will expand slightly as they get warmer and you are running, so this little bit of extra space at the front allows your foot to move freely and without restriction."
"As you run, your feet will also shunt forward slightly on impact with the ground, so giving yourself a little extra toe room should avoid any chance of losing nails or crunching your toes," explains Tim.